P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories

3. DEEP WATERS (continued)

Scarcely had he disappeared when the long form of Mr Mifflin emerged from the shadow beyond the veranda.

'Could you spare me a moment?'

The girl looked up. The man was a stranger. She inclined her head coldly.

'My name is Mifflin,' said the other, dropping comfortably into the chair which had held the remains of George.

The girl inclined her head again more coldly; but it took more than that to embarrass Mr Mifflin. Dynamite might have done it, but not coldness.

'The Mifflin,' he explained, crossing his legs. 'I overheard your conversation just now.'

'You were listening?' said the girl, scornfully.

'For all I was worth,' said Mr Mifflin. 'These things are very much a matter of habit. For years I have been playing in pieces where I have had to stand concealed up stage, drinking in the private conversation of other people, and the thing has become a second nature to me. However, leaving that point for a moment, what I wish to say is that I heard you--unknowingly, of course--doing a good man a grave injustice.'

'Mr Callender could have defended himself if he had wished.'

'I was not referring to George. The injustice was to myself.'

'To you?'

'I was the sole author of this afternoon's little drama. I like George, but I cannot permit him to pose in any way as my collaborator. George has old-fashioned ideas. He does not keep abreast of the times. He can write plays, but he needs a man with a big brain to boom them for him. So, far from being entitled to any credit for this afternoon's work, he was actually opposed to it.'

'Then why did he pretend you had saved him?' she demanded.

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